Recently, the Repeal Campaign achieved bodily autonomy and the right for women in the Republic of Ireland to choose what they want to do with their bodies in terms of pregnancy.
That shit is important. And something to celebrate.
Now the attention has turned to our sisters in Northern Ireland, and the pressure for Theresa May to stop being pally with the DUP on the matter needs to be cranked up. No woman must be left behind.
Watching protesters outside doctors’ surgeries is both maddening and distressing. Pro-lifers lining the streets holding up pictures of dead babies is horrific. The shouting of ‘baby killers’ at women entering abortion clinics is abhorrent.
And yet pro-choicers are the ones who are called selfish and inhumane. But something that has plagued me for a while is the idea of a ‘good abortion’ and a ‘bad abortion’, and the sense of morality tied to it. Caitlin Moran explores this in How to Be a Woman, and I guess reading that discussion, for me, ignited the fire.
I’ve assumed abortion as a necessary part of life ever since I knew what it meant. As I grew older, I realised that your circumstances often determine your moral right to an abortion, and people, almost certainly, judge you on those circumstances.
In many cases, getting an abortion is seen as the right thing to do. Whereas if I wanted to terminate a pregnancy for no other reason than the fact that I want to, and it’s my right to do so, I would be judged.
Always a difficult decision?
I wonder how many women there are where although abortion was a difficult thing to have to consider; it wasn’t a hard decision for them to stick to. It was something they really wanted. This is the experience that Caitlin Moran described:
‘I have no dilemma, no terrible decision to make – because I know, with calm
certainty, that I don’t want another child now, in the same way I know absolutely
that I don’t want to go to India, or to be blonde, or fire a gun.’
A lot of people nod their heads in agreement with abortion. But, they say, there are rules, and abortion can only be tolerated in small doses. We don’t want it to be on demand. A loaf of bread, a pint of milk, oh and an abortion, please. If a woman is raped and she falls pregnant, an abortion is deemed as perfectly acceptable. If a woman falls pregnant and doesn’t feel as though it is the right choice for her, even though she is financially stable, and in a loving relationship,
an abortion is simply unfathomable.
Why don’t we look at abortions in a more positive light? In every other circumstance, when something affects your physical and mental health and well- being, you are encouraged to take action to end the thing that is causing you to suffer.
Pregnancy may be too much of a strain on your body, or you find it difficult to look after just you, never mind another human being. We are frightened to admit this. And we shouldn’t be.
The ‘Next Step’ Isn’t Automatic
As a woman, you are expected to embrace motherhood above all else, no matter the price. If you are not financially secure, or not on good terms with the father, or already have children, motherhood is still assumed as a given and often the priority. Which is a huge sacrifice.
The pro-life stance is essentially a pro-birth stance. So many women are looked down upon for considering an abortion, yet when they give birth they are completely alone. Society tells a woman that being a mother tops everything else that she is capable of. But where will that society be when they struggle?
Everyone else is considered besides the pregnant woman, and this particular part in How to Be a Woman is key:
‘Across the world, women are doing what they have always done, throughout
history: dealing with a potentially life-altering or life-threatening crisis, and then
not talking about it afterwards. In case anyone near to them – those people who
are not bleeding, and who have not just had an abortion – get upset.’
The thought of offending someone is terrifying. But unfortunately, in the case of abortion, it is necessary if it means widening the debate.
I don’t have any children – I don’t know if I ever will. I can’t say what I would choose to do if I fell pregnant. But those who already have children, and want an abortion, are under an enormous amount of pressure, as they are expected to just continue being mothers.
You’ve had children already, so why not more? You already know what it is like to look after a baby. So you are expected to keep revisiting motherhood again and again once you fall pregnant.
Immigration is a hot topic of discussion in the UK, and you overhear ‘there aren’t enough jobs’ and ‘there aren’t enough houses’ in conversations time and time again. Yet when women demand rights to their bodies and a way of population control, it is seen as absurd.
It’s not enough to just say that abortion is necessary. I tweeted recently saying that nobody likes abortion, and in many ways, of course that is true. Nobody wants to be in that situation if they can help it.
But do I like the fact that I can terminate an unwanted pregnancy when I choose? Yes, I do. And we shouldn’t be afraid to say this. Abortion isn’t just a necessary thing; it is a good thing. And that isn’t said enough.
What do you think? Are you pro-choice and therefore pro-abortion or is that a step too far for you?